This year’s upcoming election may not have the glitz and glamour of last year’s presidential and gubernatorial elections but it certainly has some very intriguing candidates for the two top executive positions in the most populous county in the state. Three of the four candidates that are vying for the County Executive and Mayoral positions have virtually no elected political experience. It would appear that the voters in this region are tired of the same status quo type of political leadership in this area. Mike McGinn, Joe Mallahan and Susan Hutchinson represent a trend in new faces to our local races and I for once find it quite refreshing to see people with limited political background running for the highest positions in the greater Puget Sound area. The last primary showed that the voters are begging for change and new leadership during a time of enormous economic challenges. How effective will they be if they win? Will they be able to navigate the complex and long consensus oriented processes that we have established? Will these potential new elected officials utilize their experiences to stand up and challenge the likes of Tim Eyman? How will they work with the API community and other communities of color?

The API community is extremely complex and diverse in its various endorsements for the four candidates as they all see different pro/cons of the various candidates. Dow Constantine has a history of working within our community while the other three candidates have limited experience working with API groups. Each of these candidates has made significant effort to learn and understand the issues and concerns of the API community but how that will translate to actual new policies, appointments and initiatives is completely unknown. The internet, news clips, attack ads and short sound bytes make it extremely challenging to fully understand who these candidates are as actual people and what their personalities are like. From my interactions with the candidates, Dow Constantine has a firm grip and understanding on the complexities of the API community but is a career legislative politician. Mike McGinn has been labeled as an environmental grassroots candidate when in fact he has a great deal of experience in working with the City of Seattle and its various neighborhoods/communities on various issues. Joe Mallahan has been labeled, as another Greg Nickels when in fact he is nothing like Mayor Nickels. Susan Hutchinson has been labeled as an ultra right wing conservative when she shares the same values and concerns of many county citizens. What I can conclude is that each of them brings a new and fresh perspective to an area that has been drowned by consensus policies and bureaucracy.

The API community is spreading its bets across all the numbers on the board and whatever number it hits, it will have some ability to access the winning candidates and hopefully guide them on the issues important to us. Individually, it is up to each of us as API community members to ensure that we get involved in the process and vote for who we think should be the Mayor and County Executive. After all, that is our responsibility as American citizens to vote. I will make my votes based upon who I think will do the best job and lead this region so that we have a strong economy, high quality education system, upgraded infrastructure, and meet the social service needs of this region. If we do end up with two new leaders with no political experience, then I tip my hat off to them, as they will have already made change.

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